Review of Skins

Skins (2007–2013)
8/10
A breath of fresh air...
1 September 2008
When trying to think of successful 'teen' drama series, all that really springs to my mind are the likes of 'The OC' or 'Dawson's Creek'. Isn't it about time that us Brits made some kind of contribution to this genre? Step forward 'Skins', a gritty UK drama about a gang of teenage Bristolians.

The show is instantly refreshing for two reasons. Unlike the aforementioned American shows, the show's sixteen and seventeen year old characters actually look that age and lack that 'surprisingly-mature-looking' quality of the stars of the US teen shows. Secondly, the show is less 'aspirational' than its US counterparts. All the characters are flawed, and we meet real people with real problems as opposed to spoilt brats trying to live millionaire lifestyles. We watch as the teenagers try to get on at college, pursue relationships and try to make their future that little bit less uncertain.

The flaws in the characters are what make the show so interesting, as each member of the group tries to make their own way in the world. Each will succeed only to a certain extent. Although all different, the group are united in their pursuit of a decadent, hedonistic lifestyle. This is where the show becomes controversial. Clearly targeted at teenagers, the show runs the risk of promoting this kind of lifestyle. Having said this, the audience is made sympathetic to the characters' antics by placing them in the context of the anguish which they all experience to some extent. What's more, the liberal approach to life exhibited is rarely without consequence.

Skins is compelling viewing. The soundtrack is excellent and the acting, for the most part, shows a lot of promise. Although the show is morally questionable at times, it confirms to me the fact that Channel 4 is the UK's most exciting broadcaster, which should be commended in at least some senses for having the audacity to do things that the BBC never would. Being innovative almost always requires the raising of a few eyebrows.

Young people in Britain are getting a bad press at the moment, and Skins is successful in showcasing the more human side of today's teens and also in reminding older folks that even they were young once. I just hope that the show doesn't go too far in promoting the kind of lifestyle which may be the reason why young people are finding themselves ostracized in the first place.
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